El Cajon, Calif.
Azusa Pacific 7, Christian Heritage 1
Azusa Pacific did its part, but unfortunately, its neighbors to the north couldn’t cooperate.
The Cougars, desperately needing a win Saturday, which they got, 7-1 over Christian Heritage, did all it could to qualify for the NAIA Region II Tournament next week.
However, CS Monterey Bay defeated Notre Dame de Namur, 1-0, in the CalPac championship match to earn the region’s sixth and final spot into the playoffs and eliminating the Cougars’ chances. Both Notre Dame and CS Monterey Bay qualified. Had Notre Dame been able to win, then Azusa Pacific would have been in by virtue of a higher Longo rating than CS Monterey Bay.
Nevertheless, the Cougars put up a brilliant battle through what seemed like endless adversity the entire year. The defending GSAC champions finish the season 7-6-5 overall, 4-3-3 GSAC, falling just 1 game short. Christian Heritage finishes 5-13-2, 0-10-0.
Determined to do all it could, Azusa Pacific jumped out quickly, scoring 5 goals in the first 45 minutes. The Cougars scored the game’s first 3 goals in a matter of just 5 minutes. Sophomore Jason Van Broekhuizen gave the Cougars’ a 1-0 lead in the 13th minute off a Jordan Jones assist. Junior Michael Dwinell then scored 2 goals just 2 minutes apart to give the Cougars an insurmountable 3-0 advantage.
Christian Heritage answered with a tally in the 36 minute, but freshman Ian Leibbrandt, who tallied an assist on Dwinell’s second score, scored consecutive goals in the 37th and 39th minutes, and the Cougars led 5-1 at the intermission.
Leibbrandt opened the second half with his third goal in the 54th minute, giving the freshman his first career hat-trick and the team scoring lead with 8 goals this year. Sophomore Shane Bangle added his second goal of the year to round out the scoring in the 56th minute. The Cougars outshot CHC, 20-5, including a 12-3 mark in the second half.
The win assured Azusa Pacific of its ninth straight winning season. Nine Cougar seniors completed their careers, combining for 50 wins, 2 GSAC championships and 3 NAIA Region II Playoff appearances. This is the first time Azusa Pacific has not qualified for the playoffs since 1998.